Daddy Didn't Want Me: An Aberration Story

December 21, 2008


"I’ve learned that things in life are not always perfect, but that doesn't mean you can't eventually make them great with positivity and hard work."

In our blend
ed family culture, do you ever wonder how children truly feel about the situations in which they find themselves? Do you wonder if the pain adults navigate through as relationships are severed, built, and re-built is destined to become their offspring's legacy? Do we do enough to protect and love them when we fear the love or a bond they deserved or needed is somehow missing? Must the aberrations of the parent always become that of the child?

Phoebe is a 2o-year-old college student. When she was born her biological father didn't want her. He didn't feel that he was ready to be a father. The 28-year-old professional preferred that another choice be made when her mother, a 21-year-old college student, broke the news that she was pregnant. He walked away. Phoebe was subsequently born to a single mother in 1980's Louisiana during a time when it was still unpopular to "go it on your own." Abortion was barely turning the corner of mainstream acceptability in many parts of the nation. Her mother made the calculated and heartfelt choice to stick it out, and for two and a half years raised Phoebe as a young, single parent in a society that frequently gave "funny looks" at unwed moms while also deeply frowning upon abortion. You could say that Phoebe was born between a rock and a hard place.

Phoebe is an example of a choice made by a young women who weighed all the factors, took what, for her, was the unselfish road, and chose to believe that everything would work
out for the best because she would make it so. In fact, Phoebe's life is proof that when faced with a life altering aberration, you can turn lemons into lemonade through sheer strength of will, faith, and fortitude. Attitude goes a long way toward the paths our lives take, and that is an individual choice no one can take away. As founding member of the Aberration Nation, I am honored to bring my own daughter, Phoebe, into the fold. She is a remarkable young woman, and a role model for how we can all focus on the bright side.

How has not being wanted by y
our biological father shaped your life, including your self esteem and world view?

Honestly, I believe it has shaped my life for the better. Who knows what my life could have turned out instead, but the one I have is wonderful. I truly wouldn't want it any other way even if it included having my birth father in it. I do sometimes wonder where I would be now and who would be in my life if he had stuck around, but it's more out of sheer curiosity than out of longing.

I don't believe the situation has affected my self esteem at all really. I always looked at the situation as stemming from a character flaw of his, for not taking responsibility, and for not wanting an amazing woman and child in his life. I never really thought it had anything to do with me not being good enough, probably because my mom always raised me feeling special and wanted above anything else. Actually, sometimes I’m really surprised how unaffected I feel by it . . . I’m sort of waiting for it to hit me and mess me up or something, but it doesn’t seem to be happening so I’m extremely grateful for that.

My view of the world . . . I’m a trillion times luckier in life than most of the world so this one thing really isn’t something to harp on.

Your father adopted you when you were six-years-old. As you were growing up, how did your mother and adopted father handle the situation? Is there anything you believe they could have done better?

I can’t remember the first time my mom and dad sat down and explained everything to me. I really just grew up knowing how things were from an extremely young age. I was just told my dad was adopting me because he loved me as his own child--there never seemed to be another option. Sometimes people will refer to my dad as my step-dad, and that always sounds so jarring to me. He’s not my step dad, he’s just my dad. He always has been. I don’t think there's a rule-book on how to handle a situation like this. But above anything, my confidence in myself and my family now, prove that my parents handled it greatly. I really can't think of anything they could have done better.

What have you learned from the situation, and how will you apply this to your own life moving forward?

I’ve learned that things in life are not always perfect, but that doesn't mean you can't eventually make them great with positivity and hard work. Although I'm the child in this situation, it was my mom who had to bear the brunt of the emotional hardship. She was able to not only get over her own heartbreak and fear, but to instill in me, with the help of my dad, a sense of calm and acceptance in life. For that I will always be in awe and extremely grateful.

Moving forward in life I will always, of course, be careful who I let close to my heart, but most of all I'll try not to be afraid when life takes drastic turns I don’t expect. It has already taken many in the past few years that have turned out to be better than I could ever ask for.

Describe the worst and best aspects of your aberration.

Hmmm, I guess the worst is the curiosity I have. Particularly on my birthday every year I wonder if my birth father stops at some point during the day and thinks, “Wow, today Phoebe is 20.” I also think about the fact that I apparently have some half siblings out there in the world. I’m really more saddened that I miss out on those family members more than missing out on my father. Those kids could be awesome, amazing people that I’m related to, and I’ll probably never get to know them. The best aspect is probably just knowing how lucky I am. Not that a father, or husband, makes for everything in your life, but the life we would have led if my mom stayed with my birth father and the life we ended up having with my dad are radically different. Who knows what my first “chance” at a life would have been, but the second one we got has been so amazing that I feel like it’s extremely unlikely the other could have been better. Even though the beginning of my life was certainly not storybook, it turned out fantastic--what more can one ask for?

How has your aberration shaped your views on abortion and adoption?

I have always been steadfast on my views on abortion – I believe a woman has a right to choose. If that grew out of anything in my familial past, I really wouldn’t know. But it’s definitely made me a strong believer in adoption. I don’t feel I can even begin to relate to children who were adopted by both parents- that’s a whole other ball game. I almost feel bad writing this in such a nonchalant way because I know that some adopted children are deeply affected by it, and I would never want people to find me cold to those situations. My situation has made me realize that you don’t have to be blood-related to have a great family love. I think any parents that give the gift of adoption to a child, whether it be in a situation like mine, or a total adoption situation, are amazing selfless people. The world would probably be a much better place if everyone were able to share their love, name, and family with a child who is not their “own.”

Your mother was a college student when she became pregnant, and now you’re a college student. From the perspective of a child born to a single mother, can you share any insight with young women who may be facing an unplanned pregnancy, or young single parents?

That’s a tough question. I could never begin to understand what it’s like to have an unplanned pregnancy. I would love to say to all those young girls that they can definitely do it, and everything will work out. I am extremely lucky that it did for me. My mom is extremely strong and determined, and she survived through it and made a wonderful life for us. Reality is, a lot of young pregnant women cannot and do not do that. I think each woman who is unexpectedly pregnant has a lot of tough questions to ask themselves--the resolution may not always be what everyone would love for it to be. As for young single parents . . . the best advice I could give is to do the best you can and let your love for your child come first in everything you do.

You’ve never met your biological father. Do you think adopted children should search out their birth parents and why?

That’s a personal choice. I think it’s really great to hear stories about how adopted children reconnect with their birth parents years later and build a relationship. I’ve thought about contacting my birth father before, but as I get older I realize I don’t have anything to say to him. and no need for him in my life. If I were raised without a father, it would probably be a much different story. But that part in my life is filled by a great father, and there’s really nothing I could need from anyone else. Some people probably want to face their birth parents for closure. But I don’t even feel the need to ask him why he left. He was a young, stupid guy. The world is full of them . . . I would only hear a story I've heard many times before.

How do you define family?

I believe families are built around love. Perhaps that usually happens in a biological situation with parents and children, but it doesn't mean that alternative situations are any less valid or steadfast.

For more on this story, read Curve Ball Salvation.

Comments

Anonymous

Anonymous said:

Phoebe is truly an amazing young woman – wise far beyond her years and beautiful in every sense of the word. A million congratulations to you, Phoebe, for doing a fantastic job as a mother.

Celeste

Celeste said:

What an amazing young woman. Truly beautiful in every way. What an example of courage she has in her mother. There is an old poem that says, children learn what they live. I salute this mother and this man who became her father. They provided this young woman with the example she needed to become the strong, thougtful and vital individual she is today.

Renese

Renese said:

I met you for the fist time when you were a “baby bump” and then again, later as a toddler. I got pregnant at the very end of my graduate studies year in 1990, married my daughter's father and then left him when she was barely four months old the week before Christmas 1991. The facade that he had maintained so well while we were dating and engaged, simply fell apart and revealed the sincerely disturbed individual that was there all along. I devoted my life to my daughter and really didn't even begin to date until she was nearly 5 years old. I was so fearful of bringing someone into her life that disrupted our calm, sane existence. Like you, she was 6 when I met the man that I married 4 years later; the only father she's ever known. He never adopted her (her biological father fleeing the country to avoid $100 a month in child support complicated the issue) and she was given the choice to continue calling him “Jimmy” or to call him “dad”. The fact that she chose to continue calling him Jimmy has never stopped her from referring to him as her dad; not her step-dad. As I read your story and listen to your feelings about your biological dad, I can't help but make a comparison and contrast with my own daughter. So many things in your lives sound so familiar, yet my own daughter has grown into an angry and judgmental person who seems to constantly look for the worst in every person and/or situation. Once, in a counseling session when she was maybe nine or ten years old, she made a vague comment about her anger towards her biological father. I just couldn't see then and don't see now how she could possibly harbor any feelings at all for someone that, like you, she's never even known. My husband is an amazing man that has given her more love and put in more time and patience with her than just about any father I've ever seen or known. Everything about our lives has been so steady and lacking in any drama, yelling, screaming, intimidating or being even the slightest bit disrespectful towards one another. My daughter isn't even really disrespectful towards me or her dad….she just treats us as if we were furniture in the room. She only says she loves me when I tell her I love her. I started to make it part of our night time ritual for her to hug me before she went to bed, or there would never be any hugging at all. When I do hug her for no reason but to just make contact, I can feel the resistance coming off of her almost as if it is painful for her. Many times, her arms remain at her sides.
I remember your mom back then. I remember that she was maybe a little uncertain of the future as an “unwed, single mom”, but that her certainty of her love for you and that she could and would be a stronger and better person because of you, far outweighed any of that. Your mom and I were good friends, but probably not a lot alike by any stretch of the imagination. It does seem as if, however, we've done a lot of the same things and maintained similar attitudes about what we wanted and how we would handle being single moms. I never once looked at anything that I did for my daughter as having any kind of pay off in the future. I just thought that maybe our story would have been a bit more like yours and your mom's. It thrills my soul, for you and your mom, that your lives have grown into your being able to be so close and strong together. No matter how many people that have watched me with my daughter closely over the years have told me “you did a great job; you've been a terrific mom”, I still can't help but wonder. I was the one that raised her and had the most significant influence on her life. How could someone that was nurtured with so much love, positivity and respect grow into someone so negative, judgmental and uncommunicative? I really don't expect any answers from you, sweetie. This was more cathartic than anything else and I'm thinking that, maybe, someone else might read it and have a comment. I wish you all the best and sincerely hope that we get to meet again someday!

Penelope Przekop

Penelope Przekop said:

Renese, After reading your comment, I thought you might like to read an article I found in our local newspaper. I tried to paste it here but it didn't seem to work. I'll share it with you somehow on Facebook.

Don't give up on your daughter yet. She's still so young. Growing up is tough. Every child has a unique disposition, and experiences life differently. I didn't fully appreciate this until having a second child. After having had only one for eleven years, I can say that it's much harder to grasp this when you only have one. Hang in there!

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